carrot cake was his favorite
I didn’t intend to take such a lengthy break (a whole month!) from blogging. It just happened. I’ve sat down at my desk to write numerous times, and I’ve even amassed a small collection of first paragraphs. None of these were fit to publish, so they languish in a DropBox folder on my computer. If I were able to gather the many paragraphs I have written and then immediately deleted into one volume, I would have an impressive anthology of crap to show you.
This break would have been wonderful had I actually planned it. Instead, I have suffered through three-and-a-half weeks of guilt over not posting. I’m fixing that today.
My life has been occupied with work and family, but in a mostly good way. I’m also finding time to knit in the evenings and on weekends. I completed a shawl recently, one I hope to be able to wear when it gets chilly or during our summer vacation up north. I’m trying to complete this wrap in the next few weeks. I’m so happy to be knitting, but I do realize that my evening and weekend knitting has partially replaced some previously carved-out writing time. I’m trying to find a balance.
I am also reading a lot. My life would be empty and sad without books. I’ve got three going right now: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; and Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith, & Family by Pam Anderson, Maggy Keet, and Sharon Damelio. I’m listening to the first one on audiobook, and despite what my 11-year old daughter says, listening to a book does count as reading. I’m reading the second one on my Kindle, and the third one is a hardback book I received free from the publisher.
I’m over halfway through the Three Many Cooks book, and I’m really enjoying it, maybe even more so than I expected (though I knew it would be great, given who the authors are). The book is a memoir by the three women behind the Three Many Cooks food blog, and it’s written in their three voices, each one alternating chapters, with a recipe or two at the end of each chapter. I find that I’m bookmarking nearly all of the recipes to try later. The stories that Pam, Maggy, and Sharon tell are engaging, and as I’m reading, it feels as if I’m sitting down with them in their kitchen, sharing stories over cups of coffee. It’s a good feeling, and it’s a good book.
Despite the numerous savory recipes I’ve earmarked in Three Many Cooks, I knew I wanted to bake the carrot cake that Sharon shares on page 43 of the book. My father loved sweets, but of all desserts available to him, carrot cake was his favorite. I can’t recall a specific instance where I learned this. It’s just something I’ve always known, like the color of his eyes or the way he smelled.
I never baked a carrot cake for my dad, despite knowing that it was his favorite. Looking back, I think I thought I wasn’t capable of making a carrot cake that would please him, that it would not be good enough. I’m sure I also thought that I had plenty of time to make one. A whole lifetime, his and mine. Turns out, I was wrong, on both counts.
This was a great carrot cake. My dad would have loved it.
Yield: Serves 12-16.
I slightly adapted this recipe from Sharon Damelio's recipe for Perfect Carrot Cake in Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family.
I omitted the cranberries and pecans in favor of a smoother textured cake, as I'm not a fan of nuts in cakes (or brownies or fudge, for that matter). When making the frosting, Sharon recommends leaving the cream cheese and butter on the counter for at least 4 hours, and I agree. I tweaked the frosting a bit, for our tastes.
For the cake:
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the frosting:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
2-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, measured and then sifted
Make the Cake:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the middle position. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with a parchment round, then butter and flour the pans, shaking out any excess flour.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, chop the carrots very finely to about the consistency of large couscous. Transfer carrots to a medium bowl and rinse the food processor bowl (you'll need it again).
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
In the food processor fitted with the steel blade, mix the eggs and sugars until thoroughly combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the vegetable oil in a steady stream until well blended. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Add the carrots and stir.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a rack to room temperature before inverting them to remove the cakes. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt. Gradually add the sifted confectioner's sugar, beating until the frosting is light and airy (2-3 minutes).
Assemble the cake:
Put a small dollop of icing in the center of a cake plate. Place one cake on the plate. Using an offset metal spatula, evenly spread about 1 cup of the frosting over the top of the first cake. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread the entire cake with the remaining frosting and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Slightly adapted from Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family.